Vibrating equipment specialist Kwatani’s steady growth into international markets has been given a significant boost following its recent acquisition by Swedish multinational engineering company, Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions, a division of the Sandvik Group.

Kim Schoepflin, CEO of Kwatani tells Modern Mining that technology leader Sandvik was seeking a partner for its vibratory equipment business and showed great interest in the company’s technology, including its intellectual property (IP), local content offering and expertise and Kwatani was looking for opportunities to expand its international footprint.

“Sandvik has a reach into 160 countries and this partnership offers Kwatani the opportunity to increase our reach even further,” she says.

Aside from having a firmly established local and African footprint, Kwatani, the home-grown original equipment manufacturer (OEM), has been growing its global market reach over the years and currently exports products to over 54 international destinations.

According to Kwatani GM Jan Schoepflin, the vibrating equipment manufacturer is establishing its footprint in key mining destinations, including in Canada, Australia and North America, and recently supplied its first vibrating unit into its a modular sorter plant to a copper operation in Brazil and going forward, plans on leveraging off its extensive reference base across blue chip mines and this initial foray into Latin America.

Even with the recent acquisition by Sandvik, the Kwatani brand remains unchanged and will continue to be used across Africa while products sold internationally will be sold through the Sandvik sales channels under the Kwatani product name.

Commodities boom – a driver for modular plant demand

The commodities boom is a key driver for modular plant demand, given the significant benefits they offer, especially as they can be produced easily and speedily to meet production demands from mining houses looking to benefit from favourable commodity prices.

The vibrating equipment specialist reports an increase in its equipment demand across all commodity types including –gold, diamonds and coal.

“Mining houses looking to take advantage of strong commodity prices have turned to Kwatani’s vibrating equipment solutions for their modular plants to lift production capacity. When compared to traditional methods of increasing production, modular plants are ideal as they can be manufactured quickly to ramp-up to the upscaled production rate. Often modular plants are designed on portable skids as self-containedunits that can be stacked or arranged in different formations to add to specific plants,” explains Jan Schoepflin.

While the development of new processing plants carries hefty price-tags, modular plants, on the other hand, are more affordable particularly to medium-to-small scale miners as they carry lower capital costs, and offer high return on investments and improved cost to recovery ratios.

Aside from the faster lead timesto production, modular plants are constructed off-site and do not interrupt or shut down existing operations.

As most mining operations are situated in remote and difficult to reach locations, a further advantage of modular plants is that they are designed to be transported and custom designed to meet the exact process requirements that the plant will need to process.

“Providers of modular plants are able to customise the self-contained units easily, using in- house expertise and sourcing high-quality key equipment and components from OEMs such as Kwatani, at a much lower capital cost when compared to traditional processing plants. As an OEM with years of experience, we design vibrating screens and feeders for modular plants to meet exact process requirements that the plant will be processing. If amodular plant, for example, is designed to process 250 tph, Kwatani will customise all its required vibratory screening equipment to meet the required application by selecting the ideal screening

parameters to efficiently perform. The OEM tailors the mechanical structure of its vibrating unit, including drive size and isolation, among others, while fitting seamlessly into the modular plant. Once we have designed the vibrating units, we are able to reproduce them in bulk and further reduce lead times,” Kim Schoepflin explains.

Kwatani’s 45 years of experience in the business has seen the company fine-tune its ability to speedily produce equipment to specification and dramatically reduce lead times. This is an imperative as new projects are  often driven by commodity cycles and pricing.

“Projects are typically executed when product price is high and processing plants need to be supplied at highly expediated timelines,” she adds.

Aside from meeting the modular plant needs for new mining projects, mining houses also turn to Kwatani’s expertise for brownfield optimisation projects.

With the majority of modular mineral processing plants having been constructed well over a decade ago, brownfields optimisation projects are increasing in demand, driven by the need to keep up with the changing mineralogy needs or the changing requirements of the mine. The latter may either need an additional process step which it can achieve with an additional module or the mine may wish to perform a more strategic upgrade of the existing plant and equipment it is currently using.

“As mining operations progress through the ore, the minerology can change over time with some changes being significant enough for the original design of the plant to no longer meet the process requirements and a modular plant upgrade is needed. Based on our depth of mechanical and metallurgical expertise and on-site experience, Kwatani works closely with the mine and the supplier of the modular plant to assist with optimising the processing plant. We have on several occasions assisted mining houses in de-bottlenecking such plants by implementing customised grizzly, screen or feeder equipment solutions aimed at increasing capacity,” says Kim Schoepflin.

Top notch skills

Underpinning Kwatani’s success and a key reason for the Sandvik acquisition has been Kwatani’s IP which is driven by is its dynamic, highly skilled workforce, including minerologists, metallurgists and mining engineers.

“The team is innovative, flexible and easily adapts to meet the needs of the changing times, such as with the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain constraints, which require that we work flexible hours to meet increased production demands,” says Jan Schoepflin.

Side-bar: Kwatani facility

  • Kwatani was established in 1976.
  • The company is equipped with engineering, manufacturing and a fully-fledged
    laboratory and R&D facilities.
  • Following the Sandvik acquisition, the Kwatani facility in Isando, Ekurhuleni, is set
    to become the global engineering and manufacturing base for vibrating screens and
    feeders for both local and international customers.
  • Kwatani is ISO 9001:2015 certified, subjecting its locally produced equipment to
    rigorous tests at its in-house testing facilities prior to dispatch.
  • The company is a level 2 BBBEE contributor.